Government ‘legalises’ sex in public toilets
Sex in public lavatories will be effectively legalised if Government proposals are backed in Parliament.
Ministers plan to repeal the statutory offence of gross indecency and rely instead on general public order offences and the rarely-used common law offence of ‘outraging public decency’.
The plan is contained in the Sexual Offences Bill. The bill is currently being debated by the House of Lords. The issue of sex in public toilets is expected to be debated again in the next few weeks.
Gross indecency specifically outlaws homosexual acts in public toilets. Some homosexual men use public toilets as meeting places for casual, anonymous sex. This practice is very rare amongst heterosexuals and almost unheard of amongst lesbians. A number of public toilets have been closed down because of complaints about homosexuals using them for sex. Constabularies across Britain have been forced to respond by targeting lavatories where the problem is acute. Until now, they have been able to rely on gross indecency to prosecute those responsible.
For example, a five-day operation targeting lavatories at Baker Street Station led to 34 men being cautioned for gross indecency. A force spokesman explained: “We have had a series of complaints about homosexual activity taking place in the lavatories, some of it witnessed by young children.”
The Government argues that sexual acts in public toilets will be controlled by the ‘outraging public decency’ offence and other public order offences. But critics say these offences are too weak and will not work in practice.
The Christian Institute has today published a report calling for a new law to prohibit all sexual activity in public toilets – whether homosexual or heterosexual. An amendment to this effect has been put forward in the House of Lords by Lady Noakes. It is expected to be debated by the House of Lords in the next few weeks.
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of The Christian Institute, said today, “The plan to repeal gross indecency and put nothing in its place is astonishing. It will effectively legalise sex in public toilets. Parents will fear sending their children into such places. Many will become no-go areas for families. Weak laws such as ‘outraging public decency’ are no substitute for a clear and specific criminal offence which addresses this well-known public nuisance.”
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